July 19, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Marci Hamilton, a retired registered nurse and former student of Adrian Dominican Sisters, was welcomed into Associate Life July 15, 2019, during a Ritual of Acceptance in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse. She was mentored by Sister Barbara Quincey, OP.
Associate Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, and Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor, welcomed Sisters and Associates to the Ritual of Acceptance. Members of the Assembly also welcomed Marci. “You have journeyed with us for this time and you will continue to get to know us, deepen the bonds between us, and share faith and prayer with us,” they said in unison during the ritual.
After an introduction by Sister Barbara, Marci noted the reason for her decision to become an Adrian Dominican Associate. Her mother, Rose Todaro Hamilton, was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters at St. Joseph Academy in Adrian, she said. A student at Queen of the Miraculous Medal School and St. Mary, Star of the Sea High School in Jackson, Michigan, she also was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters. Two of the Sisters – Norma Dell, OP, who taught first grade, and Marilyn Francoeur, OP, who taught seventh grade – attended the ritual.
As a young woman, Marci joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and while still a member of that Congregation became a nurse. She continued as a nurse until her recent retirement. She and her husband Colin Baker – who died more than two years ago – raised a son, who lives on the West Coast.
Marci decided to become an Adrian Dominican Associate when, on the same day about a year ago, Sister Barbara and Sister Margaret Urban, OP, invited her to consider joining Associate Life. “Thus began my journey,” Marci said. “Thank you for inviting me. I belong here.”
The Ritual of Acceptance continued with Marci signing the Agreement of Association, a formal document expressing her willingness to enter into a relationship with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Sister Barbara presented Marci with the Associate Life pin.
Mary Lach reflected on her own experience of having a DNA test and of seeing, on a screen, the blueprint of her genetic code. “We all have this unique blueprint which causes every cell in our bodies to be formed in a certain way in the image of God,” she said. In the same way, Dominicans have a genetic blueprint – a charism or spirituality – that characterizes members of their family, Mary said. Common characteristics of Dominicans are prayer, study of the signs of the times, and involvement in the Mission, Mary said.
“You’re joining a joyful group of people,” Mary told Marci. “We often laugh and enjoy life. We also help each other to become the best versions of ourselves. And finally, we offer one another signs of hope in a world that desperately needs it.”
Mary noted Marci’s lifetime work as a nurse, her desire to grow spiritually as an Associate, and her decision as a widow to live her life to the fullest to reach out to others. “We wholeheartedly welcome you to Associate Life and hope, as we journey together, you will continue to grow in holiness and happiness – and that you will find what we have here, a blueprint for your spiritual life.”
Associates are women and men – married or single – at least 18 years of age and committed to sharing the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyles, Associates share in the Sisters’ mission and vision and participate in Congregational, spiritual, and social events with the Sisters.
For more information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in vowed religious life – or know of a young Catholic woman who is – contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, a 517-266-3537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 17, 2019, Laredo, Texas – Two Adrian Dominican Sisters have spent weeks on the border of the United States and Mexico this summer, volunteering their services to migrant families who come to La Frontera Migrant Shelter in Laredo, Texas.
Sisters Patricia Erickson, OP, and Sharon Spanbauer, OP – along with other Adrian Dominican Sisters – have been serving at the shelter at the invitation and encouragement of the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, as well as the invitation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Sister Sharon served at La Frontera from May 31, 2019, through June 22, 2019. Sister Pat arrived at the shelter on June 23, 2019, and will serve through July 20, 2019. Sisters have also volunteered their time at similar hospitality houses in El Paso and McAllen, Texas.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Laredo recently opened La Frontera when the Border Patrol announced that it would be releasing immigrants from detention centers to the streets. Twice a day, Border Patrol buses drop off migrant families who have been in detention centers to La Frontera. Up to 250 migrants come to the shelter each day.
Sister Sharon explained that the migrants who are released to La Frontera all have host families in the United States. New arrivals at La Frontera go through an intake and assessment process and then receive clean clothes, a shower, a meal, and help in getting to their host families.
“Mostly they were young families and some came in with vacant eyes, they were so exhausted,” Sister Sharon said. “Once people have had a shower, clean clothes, and a meal, they’re looking a lot better.”
Typically, the migrants arrive at La Frontera after traveling for weeks from their homes in Central America to the border and after spending time being processed in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. “The resilience of the people coming to the shelter is amazing,” Sister Pat said. She recalled a young father who had traveled for three months with an 8-month-old infant. There were many similar stories and Sister Pat the “sheer determination” needed for families to make that journey.
“Walking into the shelter, some of the people are smiling and some are apprehensive about what they will experience in yet another facility,” Sister Pat wrote in a reflection on her experience. “We greet them with smiles and say ‘Welcome,’ hoping to alleviate their fears and say that this is a safe place.”
Volunteers at La Frontera serve in a variety of ways: preparing mattresses for the guests who will spend the night in the bedrooms on the second floor of the shelter; monitoring the men’s and women’s showers; organizing donations; preparing meals; making bag lunches for migrants to take when they leave; and helping guests select new clothes from a room full of donated clothing. Spanish-speaking volunteers can also help the migrants make arrangements to get to their host families – either arranging for a time for the host families to pick them up or for transportation of the migrants to their new homes.
Both Sister Pat and Sister Sharon – a nurse practitioner – used their skills to provide some medical care for the migrants. Sister Pat handed out over-the-counter medicine for minor aches and pains and colds. Sister Sharon served for part of the time in the health clinic at the shelter. “I could see patients and assess them and give them over-the-counter medicines,” Sister Sharon said. “I was able to be a resource and use some of my skills.”
Sister Sharon also spent much of her time changing sheets after one group of migrants left, preparing for the arrival of the next group. “It felt so appropriate that I was making their beds,” she said, adding that many immigrants make the beds in hotels and motels in the United States. “It touched me that I was cleaning for them, but that’s the way it should be.”
Both Sisters Pat and Sharon were impressed and inspired by the migrant families who came to La Frontera. “The people in the shelter are so grateful for everything they receive, saying ‘Gracias’ after being given a bottle of water, after each meal, after getting clean clothes, a shower, even when told that we don’t have a certain item,” Sister Pat wrote. “As people leave to go to the bus station, there are smiles on their faces and again ‘gracias por todo’ – thank you for everything. There are hugs and even tears as they leave to continue their journey.”
Sister Sharon described her experience in June as three weeks of payback. “I’ve been given so many things in my life,” she said. “This has just been an opportunity to pay it forward, not expecting anything in return.” She said her experience at La Frontera “put a face” on the issue of immigration. “Personally, I’ve always felt that each immigrant who comes improves the United States – anyone who has the gumption to get up and leave their home and get here brings a blessing.”
Both Sister Sharon and Sister Pat encouraged people to volunteer at La Frontera or other shelters or hospitality houses for immigrants – especially if they speak Spanish. “You can do anything there – whatever the gift is, and whenever you see that something needs to be done, you just do it,” Sister Sharon said. “You have to be willing to pitch in wherever you’re needed.”
Sister Pat, after a previous experience at McAllen Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, gave similar advice. “It’s a great experience,” she said. “Go without any expectations and be open to whatever comes your way. … You’re just there to be with people and to do whatever you can to help.”
While not everybody can travel to Texas to serve as volunteers at the hospitality centers and shelters, Sister Sharon noted that La Frontera is looking for donations of children’s, women’s, and men’s slacks, shirts, socks, and undergarments in sizes small and medium; practical shoes but no heels; and socks and belts for men. Donations can be sent to La Frontera Migrant Shelter, 1616 Callaghan Street, Laredo, Texas 78040. For information or to volunteer, contact Benjamin De la Garza at 956-220-3785.
Feature photo (top): Bishop James A. Tamayo of the Diocese of Laredo blesses plaques, made by a volunteer. The plaques hang in the guest rooms of La Frontera Migrant Shelter in Laredo, Texas.
Sister Patricia Erickson, OP, fourth from left, enjoys dinner at Rochas, a Mexican restaurant in Laredo, with other volunteers, Sparkill Dominican Sisters, and the coordinator of La Frontera Migrant Shelter.